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David was born in
In 1939, David and two friends joined the Left Book Club. Next year the Club published R Palme Dutt’s India Today. David had read socialists like G D H Cole and R H Tawney, but this was the first Marxist work he’d tackled, and it was a revelation. He wrote an essay on
The same year David won a State scholarship. Before taking it up at
In 1942-45 David served in the navy, mainly in coastal forces vessels in the
In 1944 he married Elizabeth Whitehead, who had joined the Party at
His war was relatively quiet: “I was in only a few actions and wasn’t wounded,” he once wrote. “But I’ve never forgotten that my three best friends were killed, and another friend severely disabled. We had talked a lot about the world we expected to see after the end of hostilities. We noted that it had taken a war to put an end to mass unemployment, and to give most people an interesting and useful job. Like nearly all the folk we talked to in the forces and in civvy street, we were determined that there would be no return to the bad old days of slums and dole queues, of insecurity in sickness and old age, and of glaring inequalities in education and health care. So my dead friends would have shared my satisfaction that the Labour government elected in 1945 created the welfare system, started a massive housing drive, established the National Health Service, and took basic industries and services into common ownership. I hope my friends would also have shared my alarm that the government followed the
David returned to Oxford after the war to complete a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. He was active in the student branch of the party and helped to put together their pamphlet `
David’s first job was with a regional development organisation in
After a year at Peterlee new town, under the distinguished architect and Communist Berthold Lubetkin, and a year in
The branch launched a campaign against high rents, which was taken up by the tenants’ association and the trade unions. When the Corporation imposed a rent increase in 1955, workers in the factories and on the building sites stopped work for half a day and marched into the town centre. This was followed by a rent strike. The actions won some small concessions from the Corporation and the Tory government. David was elected to the Sussex District Committee and secretariat. He stood three times as a Communist candidate for Crawley District Council, the vote increasing from 59 to 115, ten per cent of the Labour vote in the ward. David was active in CND and the whole family took part in the 4-day Easter marches from Aldermaston to
He was also active in the CP Architecture & Planning Group, and was one of the team that wrote `This Housing Question’, published by Lawrence & Wishart in 1954. David’s article “Lessons of the New Towns” was published in Marxism Today in March 1962. He also wrote “La planification urbaine: est-elle possible en régime capitaliste” for the French Communist journal Democratie Nouvelle (February 1961).
In 1961 David took a research post at the
In 1965 David joined the planning and architectural consultancy recently established by his old colleague and comrade Graeme Shankland (see separate entry). His first task was to manage a study for the expansion of
A number of things led to David leaving the party in 1976. His consultancy work entailed more and more travelling abroad. He had acquired a canal boat, which engrossed much of his spare time. And he was unhappy that, following the 1968 events, the party leadership had not initiated a thorough discussion of “what went wrong”. David remained a Marxist and never thought of joining any other party. He continued to be active in CND.
David kept in touch with some old Crawley comrades, though most of them had left the Party. He recalls sharing a table with three of them at a birthday party; one was in the Labour Party, another in the SWP, and the third in the SLP, but…they all took the Morning Star every day!
In 2002, he remarried and moved to
David has been a prolific writer of polemical letters to the Morning Star and the